The Noahic Covenant – Genesis 9

There are several covenants made between God and man recorded in scripture. There are seven covenants to be exact. Those covenants are as follows: Adamic Covenant, Noahic Covenant, Abrahamic Covenant, Palestinian Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. Within the discussion of the biblical covenants, there are a few issues that Christians are not agreed upon. First, some Christians think that all of the covenants are conditional in nature. If the covenants are conditional, then Israel failed miserably at fulfilling them. Others believe that the unconditional covenants have yet to be totally fulfilled and, regardless of Israel’s disobedience, will come to fruition sometime in the future. Second, how does the church of Jesus Christ relate to the covenants? Some believe that the church fulfills the covenants and God will never deal with Israel again. This is called replacement theology and has little scriptural evidence. Others believe that the church initially or partially will fulfill these covenants. While many of the promises towards Israel are still in the future, many believe that the church shares in the covenants in some way. Others believe that the covenants are for Israel and for Israel alone, and that the church has no part in these covenants. It is my view that the only covenant that directly pertains to the church is the New Covenant. Whereas the Abrahamic Covenant, Palestinian Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, and the Davidic Covenant pertains primarily to the nation of Israel. Those covenants that pertain to the nation of Israel, however, do have certain aspects that are beneficial to all. The Adamic Covenant and the Noahic Covenant are different in the fact that they do not pertain to either Israel or the church. The Adamic Covenant can be thought of in two parts: the Edenic Covenant (innocence) and the Adamic Covenant (grace) (Genesis 3:16-19). The Edenic Covenant is found in Genesis 1:26-30; 2:16-17. The Edenic Covenant outlined man’s responsibility toward creation and God’s directive regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Adamic Covenant included the curses pronounced against mankind for the sin of Adam and Eve, as well as God’s provision for that sin (Genesis 3:15).

The Noahic Covenant is the focus of our study here in Genesis chapter nine. The Noahic Covenant is an unconditional covenant between God and Noah with benefits for all of mankind. As we study this chapter we will see the Noahic Covenant come to life and we will see how such a covenant points to the New Covenant found in the cross of Jesus Christ.

Post-Flood Instructions (v. 1-7). Genesis nine begins with some basic instructions for Noah and his family as they come out of the ark. (1) Be fruitful and multiply. This command has to do with one of the functions that God created man for. He wants man to procreate and to populate the earth. God desires that mankind multiply in order that the love of God may grow and that the glory of God may increase. The more people that are born, the more the love of God is given. The more people that are born, the greater glory God receives, for man is created for that very purpose. (2) Replenish the earth. As Noah ventures out of the ark, he is to take care of the planet. He is to plant crops and vineyards. He is to engage in the cycles of seed time and harvest. (3) Rule over the animal kingdom. Noah is instructed to rule over the animals of the earth. The animals are created for man’s benefit, to provide meat, clothing, and other necessities. (4) Do not shed the blood of man. Noah is reminded of the fact that all men are created in the image of God. We are to respect the human race.

The Covenant Announced (v. 8-11). The covenant that God made with Noah is a covenant made with all of mankind. The covenant is very simple: “I will not destroy the earth again with a flood.” This is an unconditional covenant. It does not matter what man does, God will never destroy the whole earth with a flood again. It is important to note that this does not mean that God will never destroy the earth, He will just never destroy the earth with a flood. This covenant along with the instructions given to Noah is sort of a type of the New Covenant. Whereas, Noah is the new Adam and God is beginning fresh and anew in His dealings with mankind. In the New Covenant we have the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who on the cross established a New Covenant that is both conditional and unconditional. It is conditional for those who have yet to believe and enter into the covenant. It is unconditional for those who enter in, as once you have that covenant relationship with Jesus it can never be broken.

The Sign of the Covenant (v. 12-17). The sign of the Noahic Covenant is the rainbow. God places His bow in the sky to serve as a reminder of His promise to never destroy the earth again with a flood.

The Covenant Challenged. In the final verses of this chapter, we see the covenant challenged as sin once again raises its ugly head. God destroyed the earth with a flood because of sin, now sin has returned in a terrible fashion.

  1. The sin of Noah (v. 18-21). Noah found himself intoxicated with wine that he himself had produced. Over and over in scripture we see how the use of intoxicating substances is not pleasing to God. We are given multiple warnings in scripture to stay away from wine and strong intoxicating drink. Though are purpose here is not to examine what the Bible says about drinking intoxicating beverages, it does behoove us to point out the two basic reasons why Christians should never drink alcohol. First, the Bible warns to stay away from alcohol. The Bible commands us to not be “drunk with wine but to be filled with the Spirit.” Any substance that we partake in that has the potential of controlling us is sin. We are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We are not to lose control of ourselves by submitting to worldly pleasure, rather we are to submit to the Holy Spirit. Secondly, drinking alcohol can cause another believer to stumble and can hinder the cause of Christ in the world. Drinking alcohol may not only hurt a believer’s walk with God, but may also keep someone from coming to Christ when they see a believer behaving in a way that is no different than the rest of the world. This is best illustrated by a story that a pastor friend shared with me. He had preached strongly one Sunday on the subject of drinking. He laid out the reasons why Christians should not drink and also presented the Gospel clearly. A young man in the crowd responded to the invitation and got saved! A few weeks later another man in the church took that young man out to eat and ordered a few drinks. The young man questioned him about it, and he told him that the preacher did not know what he was talking about and that drinking alcohol was okay. The young man then took a drink himself and the rest was history. He became an alcoholic, lost his family, and totally ruined his life. Dear Christian, why would you cause so much harm to others and yourself by drinking intoxicating beverages. Noah took a drink, became drunk, and was laying naked in his tent. Not long after God made His covenant with Noah, sin raised its ugly head and Noah fell.
  2. The sin of Ham (v. 22-23). To make matters worse, sin took a gross turn. Noah’s son, Ham, saw his father’s nakedness and looked upon him with delight and lust. You see, sin has a way of creating a domino effect. Noah drinks wine. Noah gets drunk. Noah’s son responds in lust. The lesson to learn here is that your sin can cause others to sin in an even worse way. Sin never gets better. It gets worse and worse overtime. One little sin will turn into a bigger sin and with each generation the world becomes more and more sinful.
  3. The curse of Canaan (v. 24-27). As a result of Ham’s sin, his son, his family and all his descendants are cursed. The Canaanites were later the inhabitants of Palestine and have since become extinct. The curse of Canaan does not apply to anyone today.
  4. The result of sin (v. 28-29). Noah lived a long life but then he died. The result of sin is death. Sin brings both physical death and spiritual death. Ultimately, sin brings eternal death to all who refuse to repent and turn to Jesus.

Inspite of the sin of Noah and his sons, God never breaks His covenant. To this very day God has not destroyed the earth with a flood, and He never will. This is a picture of the New Covenant. When one comes to faith in Christ, even when we sin, God still forgives and our salvation is secure. This, my friend, is the wonderful and mysterious grace of God.

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